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  • Writer's pictureCarla Vianna

How does the Google Reviews algorithm work?


As a tour and activity operator, you know that your business's reputation can make or break your success. And with online reviews, your customers’ opinions are more visible than ever — especially on Google.


About 70% of all online reviews can be found on Google, which makes it the top review site for businesses like yours. Yet these reviews don’t just affect how others perceive your brand. They can also make your company more visible online.


Each review can boost your SEO game, or Search Engine Optimization, the process of ranking for relevant keywords on Google. Reviews are often packed with key phrases that describe the nature of your business, such as your company name and the activities you offer. For example, the following review contains both: “I really enjoyed the bike tour with Philadelphia Bikers.”


With that in mind, it’s incredibly important for tour and activity operators to understand how to leverage the Google reviews algorithm to boost their visibility.



Why reviews are so important


Before we dive into the specifics of the Google Reviews algorithm, let's take a moment to understand why online reviews are so important for a tour or activity business.


About 64% of consumers say they are likely to check Google reviews before visiting a business. Most of your guests will actively seek out reviews about your business before booking with you. This is because your customers trust the opinions of other customers more than they trust a marketing message.


For them, reviews are a more authentic and accurate representation of the experience — which is why online reviews have become a critical component of your business's online reputation.



How much can a bad review affect my reputation?


The impact of a bad review can be significant. A single negative review can deter potential customers from booking with you. Several of them can harm your business's reputation in the long run.


As much as 70% of customers say they use the rating filter when searching for businesses. The most common filter applied is to view businesses with 4 stars and higher. If your company doesn’t have at least 4 stars on Google, you could potentially be overlooked by hundreds of future customers.


If you receive a negative review, there’s no need to panic. Negative reviews can actually become an opportunity to improve your business. The next step would be to investigate the negative feedback to further understand what went wrong. The review might help you find areas or processes in your business that could be improved upon.


Meanwhile, you should always reply to negative reviews to acknowledge the customer’s frustration and try to provide a viable solution. If you act quickly enough, there’s still time to regain their confidence and repair the relationship.



Will Google Reviews help with your SEO?


Google considers online reviews as a local ranking factor, meaning that businesses with more positive reviews are more likely to appear at the top of local search results.


Google looks at the quantity, quality, frequency, and recency of online reviews for a local business. The search engine’s ranking algorithm takes all of these factors into account when ranking your website or Google My Business profile on search results.


Customer reviews are a strong indication to search engines your company is trustworthy and still relevant. Before ranking your website, Google will sift through your content to understand your business and the services you offer. The more content available, the more it will know about your business.


Online reviews can provide even more context — especially if they contain relevant keywords about the nature of your business — making it easier for Google to rank you for the right search queries.



Does the content of the review matter? i.e. leaving a comment, picture, only the rating


The star rating might be the most visible aspect of a review, but it’s not the only important factor. The content of the review is also relevant, especially for SEO purposes.


As we previously mentioned, Google uses various signals to determine the relevance and quality of a website's content. And user-generated content like reviews can be a valuable source of information.


The more relevant keywords in your online reviews, the easier it is for Google to identify and rank your business for relevant terms in your industry. Additionally, Google may use review content as a factor in its local search algorithm, which determines which businesses appear in the local pack of search results. Reviews that mention specific locations, services, or products, for example, may help your business appear more prominently in those searches.


When someone leaves you a review on Google, they can also upload a photo of the experience. Reviews that include photos or videos can build even more trust and credibility with potential customers. Images help the reader picture themselves there. These visual elements evoke an emotional response that encourages customers to make a booking.


In general, the more detailed and informative the review, the more likely it is to provide value to customers and search engines alike. Including photos or videos make your reviews more engaging and informative, which increases the chances of Google showing them to more people.



Is there any importance in replying to a customer review?


Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, shows that you care about your customers' experiences and are committed to providing excellent service.


Negative reviews especially deserve your attention. Consider that reviews are shared publicly and made visible to potential guests. Without a response, readers are only getting one side of the story. By responding, you can clarify a situation or even offer a solution.


From an SEO standpoint, it makes sense to respond to every single review. Every response is a chance to include relevant keywords about your business and more valuable content for Google’s ranking algorithm.


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Google reviews can significantly influence your business's online visibility and reputation.


Positive reviews can improve your business’s ranking in local search results, making it easier for potential customers to find you when searching for tours and activities in your area. In addition, Google reviews provide valuable user-generated content, which search engines consider when ranking websites.


By actively encouraging customers to leave reviews and responding to feedback, you can boost your SEO strategy and make your business more visible on the search engine your guests use the most.


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